When I was a kid, I remember watching my grandmother pull her hands out of the dishwater, dry them, and fill her palms with Vaseline hand lotion. I can still hear the clicking of her rings as she massaged it into her hands, and remember the powdery scent and the oil-slick feeling of her fingers afterward. At the time, I wrote it off as an “old lady” thing, not something I had to worry about for a long, long time.
Well, here I am. Living in yet another house without a dishwasher, scrubbing food stains out of my son’s clothes, and most recently, washing my hands and using hand sanitizers about 150 times per day in hopes of warding off coronavirus. My hands are code-red old lady, and my guess is that yours aren’t that far off, either. (Even if your house does have a dishwasher, you lucky stiff.)
Dr. Annie Chiu, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute, has been getting an onslaught of questions from patients dealing with the uncomfortable side effects of all this hand washing. She surprises them by saying that the issues with dry hands go well beyond splitting knuckles, ragged cuticles, and chronic dryness.
“It’s very important that we keep our hands’ skin from cracking, as broken skin is more susceptible for microbes to get in and infect us,” says Chiu. In other words, the integrity of your epidermis goes hand-in-hand with staying healthy during COVID-19.
So if your hands are in bad shape right now, here’s what Dr. Chiu recommends: “If it’s super red and inflamed, soothe it first by applying a thin layer of a cortisone cream, like Cortizone-10, that you can get at a drugstore. After that, seal it in with a rich cream with [moisturizing] ingredients like ceramides, butters and oils, and other occlusives to lock in that moisture and to repair and protect that skin barrier.”
You’ve got enough to worry about these days, without your hands constantly itching, stinging, and snagging, not to mention opening you up to possible infection. So do yourself a favor and ditch the drugstore moisturizer brands (which are made with mostly water) for some serious hydration from our favorite hand balms.
CeraVe Healing Ointment
This is Dr. Chiu’s recommendation for hands that are already super rough and cracked. Formulated with all the recommended ingredients (ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and petrolatum), it’s gentle but ultra-effective and rubs in without feeling greasy.
Duke Cannon Bloody Knuckles Hand Repair Balm
Duke Cannon’s unscented hand balm is avowedly made for “workers, fighters, and world champions.” This hand balm’s flagship ingredient is lanolin, a natural humectant that comes from sheep’s wool. With five-star reviews from mechanics, trainers, construction workers, and army gunners, this is hand lotion for a man’s man.
Saje Healing Hands Soothing Hand Lotion
Thanks to this surplus of hand-washing, a lot of guys are finding out that they have sensitive skin. Rather than grit your teeth and watch as your hands turn into seemingly raw meat, get yourself some of this all-natural lotion from Saje. The smooth texture comes courtesy of a mix of highly nourishing oils like apricot kernel, grapeseed, and sesame oil, while the faint aroma of lavender, mandarin, and geranium will have you dreaming of spring.
Made by Mary’s Transdermal Compound
Is there anything CBD can’t do? Maybe, but healing inflamed hands sure isn’t on that list. This luxurious hand salve combines the healing powers of hemp extract with nourishing mango butter and a comforting blend of essential oils to provide a targeted effect that goes deeper than your average lotion. Not only does it soothe irritated and cracked skin, but the proprietary formula penetrates beneath the top few dermal layers to heal your hands from within. It also works great for sore muscles and joints.
OSEA Malibu Anti-Aging Hand Cream
Since you’re not spending money on going out, there’s no harm in treating yourself to an at-home spa experience with some truly deluxe hand therapy. OSEA Malibu’s anti-aging hand cream offers so much more than just hand washing repair. It nourishes your skin with hydrating antioxidants from Gigartina seaweed and absorbs like a charm so there’s no greasy leftover feel. If your dating-from-home game has been going well, you’ll be glad of this hand cream once you’re allowed to hold hands again.
Wonder Valley Hinoki Body Oil
If you get impatient with how long it takes for lotion to absorb, take the quick route and moisturize your mitts with a few drops of Wonder Valley body oil. Hell, go ahead and slather it all over your arms, neck, and shoulders while you’re at it. The pure olive oil base is light and luxurious, and the faint scent of cedar and hinoki wood are just what you need to calm your nerves.
Trader Joe’s Head to Toe Moisturizing Balm
If you can’t wait around for your premium hand moisturizers to arrive in the mail, pick up a tin of this all-purpose balm while you’re shopping. Like everything at TJ’s, it’s cheap, effective, and shockingly high quality for the price. Made from an all-natural mix of beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter, the texture is slightly gritty and the scent is nothing to write home about. But it does its job, lasts practically forever, and can also be used to moisturize lips, elbow, knees and just about everywhere else.
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